Construction costs push Nanaimo water plant beyond budget

NANAIMO – Goal is to treat water at new plant this December.

Nanaimo’s state-of-the-art water treatment plant project could run $1.5 million over budget, according to city water resources manager Bill Sims.

A new $71-million filtration system, one of the city’s most costly infrastructure projects in recent times, will potentially be $1.5 million over budget, thanks in part to higher-than-expected construction expenses and a switch to provincial sales tax.

The City of Nanaimo is in the last leg of construction for the South Forks water treatment plant and filtration system, with hopes of sending treated water into the city distribution system by mid-December.

Construction began two years ago, prompted by new requirements by Island Health that the city take more stringent measures to prevent waterborne illness.

Already the system is attracting industry attention for its technological advances, Sims said in a staff report.

But the project is also surpassing its $1.35-million contingency.

“When the project was tendered we were in the middle of that transition from HST back to PST and GST and the province adjusted the rules, so there was a $2-million hit to the project,” Sims said, who adds that it took a chunk out of a contingency that normally would be $4-5 million.

Overall the costs are not unexpected and other than higher construction tenders and the PST change, “things have gone as best as we could hope for with a project of this complexity,” he said.

Acting mayor Gord Fuller told the News Bulletin he’s disappointed the city is over budget, but not overly concerned.

“It’s too late to turn back now, however if there are any more cost overruns then I will definitely be concerned,” he said.

Island Health has extended a deadline for the treatment system to the end of this year. The city hopes to have the treatment plant running by mid-December. Ongoing challenges could see the date delayed to early 2016.

Final completion, like site cleanup and landscaping, is expected at the end of March.